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6 Ways To Make A Difference

Author: Kalia Doner
Source: Diabetes Focus, April-June 2007

You Can Do A Great Deal To Make Life With Diabetes Better For Someone You Love

Taking control of diabetes is a team project. A person with type 1 or type 2 must be the captain, but it truly takes a whole crew to maintain control so the risk of complications such as blindness and heart disease are minimized and daily life is as stress-free as possible. That’s why the support and help of friends and family is essential. What can you do to help a loved one with diabetes? Here are some suggestions from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

1. Learn about diabetes. Take the time to find out about the disease. You can be much more sympathetic about the challenges your loved one faces when you know what is involved in diabetes and its management. For easy-to-read, informative fact sheets and brochures, call 800-860-8747; email [email protected] or visit; or write the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at 1 Information Way, Bethesda, MD 20892-3560.

2. Ask your loved one for input. Don’t assume you know what help he or she needs. Ask, “What can I do to help you with your diabetes?” or “What do I do that makes it harder for you to manage your diabetes?” Then, together, figure out solutions.

3. Eat meals together. People with diabetes generally follow the same rules for healthy eating that apply to everyone, so you can prepare virtually the same meal for the entire family. If you have trouble sticking with a recommended diabetes diet, talk with a diabetes educator or nutritionist for additional suggestions and support.

4. Exercise together. Walk, jog, swim or do whatever activity has been okayed by your loved one’s health-care team. Almost everyone – with or without diabetes – should get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days.

5. Learn how to recognize signs of both high and low blood sugar. A person may become short-tempered, sleepy or foggy-brained when glucose levels are high; they may be shaky, confused or unfocused when levels are low. When your loved one is cranky or in a bad mood, his or her blood sugar level may be too high or too low. Encourage them to check their glucose level and take steps to correct it. Many people can tell right away when they are losing control of their glucose levels; others don’t feel symptoms at all, particularly when it comes to low levels. You can help by being ready to counter a low with the right kind of carbohydrates or sugars, or to encourage them to bring down a high with the correct dose of insulin.

6. Know the medication routine. People with diabetes can have a hard time sticking to their medication routine. Don’t argue about it. Instead, create a monthly calendar that gives day-by-day timing of medications and glucose monitoring. Post it on the refrigerator door or a bulletin board.